The UK’s largest independent construction materials business Breedon Group (LSE: BREE) first came to my attention in October of last year. At the time the company was already one of the largest firms on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and had already delivered spectacular gains for its shareholders.
Buy, sell, or hold
Nevertheless, I decided to back the AIM-listed construction group to continue its upward surge and deliver even greater capital gains over the coming months. The business certainly didn’t disappoint, with group revenues for 2016 up by a massive 42.8% to £454.7m, and underlying earnings rising 57.8% to £59.6m, including a five-month contribution from newly-acquired Hope Construction Materials.
With the shares now up 24% on my original recommendation I once again face the dilemma of whether to stick with my original ‘buy’ rating, downgrade to a ‘hold’, or even a ‘sell’ in a bid to secure those paper profits.
First and foremost we have to admit that we are only human, and being successful in investing is as much about mastering our own emotions as it is about fundamental or even technical analysis. Therefore I would suggest that those who have seen the value of their shares at least double over the past few years could perhaps sell half their holding, thereby banking some profits, removing further risk, and achieving peace of mind, all in one fell swoop.
This morning’s interim results showed that the business can continue to deliver strong growth, as revenues doubled to £326.3m for the first six months to 30 June, with pre-tax profits also rising significantly from £20.9m to £31.2m over the same period. I truly believe that Breedon still holds appeal for new investors. With earnings forecast to rise by a further 35% over the next two years, a P/E ratio of 18.3 for 2018 is still not too demanding in my view.
Meanwhile Marshalls (LSE: MSLH) is another top performer from the construction sector that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. Indeed, shares in the West Yorkshire-based business have soared since my initial recommendation less than a year ago (August 2016), gaining 32%. But I believe there’s plenty more upside still to come.
In its last trading update the UK’s leading hard landscaping manufacturer reported a 6% rise in group revenues to £135m for the four months to the end of April, with a particularly strong performance in the domestic end market, where sales rose by 13% compared to the same period a year earlier.
I believe Marshalls can continue to grow at a reasonable pace, with its significantly increased capital expenditure programme making good progress with new product development, resulting in an encouraging pipeline of new products. Despite a 42% gain over the past year, the shares still look good value given the growth outlook, with the P/E ratio dropping to 17 after an anticipated 17% rise in underlying earnings over the next two years.
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Bilaal Mohamed has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Marshalls. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.